BAPTISM OF THE LORD
BAPTISM OF THE LORD
John the Baptist described the coming Messiah in terms of MIGHT and POWER. He said: ONE MORE POWERFUL THAN I IS TO COME AFTER ME. Just what John meant, we do not know. But to his audience those words probably created the image of a military ruler. They were expecting a mighty man, dressed in armor, and riding at the head of legions of soldiers. He would lead a great army that would overthrow the Roman rulers and he would reign supreme over all.
The gospel reading today tells us a different story. A simple carpenter comes on the scene to be baptized by John. John baptized him in the river Jordan, and a small dove came down from the sky and lit on the shoulder of Jesus. A voice could be heard…THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, LISTEN TO HIM. Surely this could not be the man that John described? But it was!
How could anyone see this man as powerful? Where was his uniform? his army? No wonder most people did not recognize him. Even John – later on – would ask him: “Are you the ONE, or are we to wait for another?” The Jews, just as we, think of power in terms of FORCE. What we need is a better understanding and definition of POWER.
Try this idea of power, and see if it isn’t better than our idea of a forceful person being powerful. POWER IS THE ABILITY TO GET THE JOB DONE. Let me explain. If your purpose is to move a large load of goods from one place to another, than you probably need a powerful machine. But if your purpose is to comfort a sick child, then the gentle hands of a mother are needed. So what is needed to attain the purpose is not always might and force. Now, let’s apply this to the mission of Jesus.
What did Jesus want to accomplish? Paul tells us in his first letter to Timothy that Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Jesus Himself said in Luke’s Gospel: “THE SON OF MAN HAS COME TO SEARCH OUT AND TO SAVE WHAT HAS BEEN LOST.” The purpose is to save and his ability to accomplish this purpose is seen in His Baptism.
Jesus of Nazareth identified himself with sinners. You can’t save a man who is drowning unless you get in the water with him and help him. It is risky, but it is the only way you can help him. Jesus got right in there with the sinners and was baptized right along with the rest of them. He made himself equal to them. As St. Paul said: “HE BECAME SIN FOR US.”
Jesus not only brought himself down to the level of the sinner, but he brought the sinner up to the level of the Divine. He became one of us that we might become one with him. Jesus always had great faith in people, always worked so that people would open themselves up to the Grace of God working in them. We recognize this ourselves when we say that someone is: CHRIST LIKE. What that really means is that the person is really humanity at its best.
This is the power of Jesus. By the Baptism of Jesus, He has become sin for us and HE has brought us up to the level of God. Mankind can be good, can be saved, can be another Christ to the world.
Where does that leave us? THE NEXT MOVE IS OURS. With what do you identify; the worst or the best? Both are inside of us.We all know the worst, and that is our sinfulness. But there is another person in there also, and it is the capability of being CHRIST-LIKE! For us to do that, we must make the move. Christ has become one with us, now we must become one with him.
May the year 2014 be the year that we all become more CHRIST-LIKE.